Piles can be placed without causing adverse effects to adjacent buildings

Dear Editor,

There have been at least two recent complaints about excessive vibrations to buildings caused by pile-driving on adjacent lots. The first complaint was made by the owner of a building on upper High St and the second by the owner of The Dutch Bottle restaurant on North Road.

A few days ago SN published a letter penned by Charles Sohan in which he advised the owner of Dutch Bottle what steps should be taken in case her building is damaged by vibrations due to pile-driving on the lot to the east of her restaurant.

There is a method used in China and South East Asia to place piles without causing any adverse effects to adjacent buildings. In fact Johil who is the owner of the building presently under construction at the corner of Oronoque and North Road, used this method to place the supporting piles for his building. Johil contracted a Chinese contractor who was obviously familiar with this method.

Simply put, a cylindrical hole is augured to the desired depth, and steel reinforcement lowered into this hole before it is filled with concrete. While this construction method is more time consuming and therefore more costly than driving piles, there are no vibrations hence no disturbance to adjoining properties. While Dutch Bottle is a wooden building and wooden buildings by nature will flex and show no damage, not so with a concrete building, which will crack and in some cases crack to the point of causing structural damage.

Years ago there was a fuss made in the vicinity of the Bank of Nova Scotia on Carmichael Street, which had something to do with a T&T contractor driving concrete piles. I can’t remember the details but can distinctly remember the fuss.

If piles are required on a new structure which is far removed from other buildings then go right ahead and drive the piles. If, on the other hand, when piles are required on a new building in an urban environment the foundation designer should design using augured piles.

Incidentally I supervised construction of several bridges where lm dia piles, 45m long were installed at the abutments. I still have the drawings for these bridges and would gladly share them with interested parties.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Gonsalves

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